Rounding Third

It’s hard to believe that we only have five weeks left of our time at Fisher, which is both exciting and sad. This is my second graduate degree, so I knew it would be fast, but somehow, I’m still surprised to find myself this close to graduation. So here is my advice to the current first year class and the incoming class of Fisher MBA’s, as the Class of 2016 rounds third base and heads towards home:

1) Do you. I said this in a post I wrote last year, and I stand by it. You will be in class with people who are brilliant, people who already have established careers, people who have started successful businesses, and people who already have graduate degrees. There won’t be anyone who is exactly like you or who wants the same things, and if you find that you’re on a more non-traditional career-path like I was (non-profits) that’s perfectly okay. Don’t compare yourself to others. Twirl down your own road. There are opportunities at Fisher and ways you can network to get yourself where you want to go. I joined Fisher Board Fellows simply because it was something I loved, and that’s how I got my job.

2) Find kindred spirits. They will advocate for you harder than anyone else. I doubt I would have made it through my program without Dr. Shashi Matta, Michelle Petrel, and Professor John Barker. They are wonderful human beings and I am so grateful for them. If you aren’t finding help through what seems like the more traditional pathways, start knocking on office doors and see who will sit down and talk with you.

3) Never stop asking for help. Ask for help from your teammates, from your friends, from professors, from staff, and from alumni. People are much more willing to help than you think they are, because everyone had someone to help them (or several someones). So ask. And make sure to follow through with a thank you and maybe some chocolate. Everyone likes chocolate.

4) Learn how to be a team player. Work hard to learn how to work with other people. This doesn’t mean be a pushover or a people-pleaser, it means learn how to work together to accomplish a goal. Be a leader when you need to be, but know that the best leaders know how to step back and let others lead, too.

5) Network. Look at everything as a networking opportunity, and a way you can meet new people. Don’t think of it as work. Don’t think of it as asking someone for a job. Think of it as making friends. And you can never have enough friends.

6) Take a leadership position in a student organization. My time on a leadership team pushed me in ways I didn’t expect it to, and it taught me how to adapt to the very different needs of the people on my team. I learned the most about leadership by being on that team, and I’ve seen the most growth in myself because of it.

7) And last, but not least, try not to stress out too much. Two years goes fast, folks. So go to follies, go to girls’ night, and hit all the happy hours. Because the work will be there, whether or not you panic. So try not to panic, and enjoy the time you have at Fisher.

Marketing For A Better World

This year the Association of Marketing Professionals and Fisher Board Fellows joined forces to put on the first ever Marketing For A Better World event. The event kicked off with small-group break-out sessions with local non-profit organizations. Six of Fisher Board Fellows’ partner organizations participated, including Catholic Social Services, Kaleidoscope House, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio, A Kid Again, the Ohio Psychological Association, and the Mid-Ohio Foodbank. Each break-out session group included one representative from one of these non-profit organizations, and these representatives posed a current marketing problem their organization is facing to the group. Participants then explored ways to solve these marketing problems and had discussions about the best solutions.

Catholic Social Services' CEO, Rachel Lustig, with students after the break-out session.
Catholic Social Services’ CEO, Rachel Lustig, with students after the break-out session.

I was the moderator for the break-out session with Catholic Social Services. The CEO of Catholic Social Services, Rachel Lustig, attended the session and brought with her a brief case study for students to read and then comment on the strengths and weaknesses of the case. Rachel explained some of the strategic and marketing changes that Catholic Social Services is going through, and she asked for student feedback on the case study and how CSS might better reach out to donors. I was impressed by how thoughtful student responses were, and by how passionate everyone was about helping the organization. The experience was a good one for students because it gave them a chance to work on a true marketing issue, and it allowed them to better understand some of the problems that non-profit organizations deal with.

After the break-out sessions, everyone converged downstairs in the U.S Bank Theatre and heard from three keynote speakers: John Rush, CEO of CleanTurn, Liz Geraghty, VP of Wendy’s, and Dianne Radigan, VP of Cardinal Health. The speakers had wonderful things to say about the ways that marketing and business can impact the world for good. John Rush discussed the importance of social entrepreneurship, and how profits are often not the ultimate goal – the goal is to help others. Liz Geraghty discussed what it was like to work for an organization that is closely aligned with its partner non-profit. She explained the ways that Wendy’s uses marketing to spread the word about the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and help get more children out of foster care and into their forever homes. And finally, Dianne Radigan discussed the importance of working for an organization that aligns itself so strongly with helping the community and making a difference.

Liz Geraghty speaking to students about the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.
Liz Geraghty speaking to students about the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.

The event was a huge success, and I think everyone – myself included – learned something. It was wonderful to see undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, staff, and business professionals, come together to discuss ways to help our local non-profit organizations and ways that marketing can make a positive difference in the community. I hope this event continues in coming years, and I hope that Fisher continues to explore ways to get students involved with giving back and focuses on the ways that marketing and business can be a force for good in the world.

Fisher Impact Day: Our Lady of Guadalupe Center

Fisher faculty and students with volunteers and staff of the Guadalupe Center.

Fisher faculty and students with volunteers and staff of the Guadalupe Center.

“There are green peppers under here! Everyone loves these!” I could see the joy on Megan’s face as she lifted up the last box of cucumbers to reveal the green peppers beneath. She paused to say something in Spanish to the two other regular volunteers. I smiled because everyone else was so happy, but I was also a little surprised to see such excitement over a vegetable. I can’t say that I’ve ever been excited to see a vegetable, but that is probably because I have always had enough to eat. For those that come to the Our Lady of Guadalupe Center, hunger is something that is all too familiar.

Megan is a senior Spanish major at The Ohio State University and regularly volunteers with the Our Lady of Guadalupe Center. She did the training for our work at the center on Fisher Impact Day. November 11th was Fisher’s very first Fisher Impact Day, and hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and staff, volunteered at non-profit organizations around Columbus. As the Chair of Fisher Board Fellows, I was asked to sit on the committee and help recruit organizations to participate. Some of Fisher Board Fellows’ partner organizations that participated were: Catholic Social Services, Ronald McDonald House, Local Matters, Mid-Ohio Foodbank, LifeCare Alliance, and the Columbus Zoo. In addition to these organizations, we had students helping out with the Red Cross and Goodwill, as well as students who made blankets for foster children, and students who helped create packages of food with The Pack Shack. I chose to volunteer with the Guadalupe Center because it is run by Catholic Social Services, which is the board I currently sit on as a fellow.

At the Guadalupe Center, myself and two other Fisher volunteers helped sort through and bag produce. While we worked, Megan taught us what each vegetable and fruit was in Spanish, and she explained to us how the center functioned. As a business student, I was impressed by the organization and efficiency of the center. Clients called in to make an appointment, and then each family was allotted a certain number of playing cards (dependent on the number of family members and the individual needs of each family), and each card was worth one point. Families were able to spend their points on whatever food they wanted, but produce didn’t cost any points – everyone got fresh fruit and vegetables. Volunteers were on-hand to help push shopping carts and keep the center organized and everything running smoothly.

For me, the green pepper moment was the most memorable of the day, because the volunteers were so genuinely excited. It showed how much the volunteers and staff at the Guadalupe Center care about those they serve. Their kindness and their dedication are invaluable because the clients at the Guadalupe Center come at their most vulnerable and in need of help. Compassion and respect are two of Catholic Social Services’ core values, and these values permeated throughout our entire volunteer experience.

Even though I was a Fisher Impact Day committee member and have been present through each step of the planning process, I am still impressed by how well it went, and by what a wonderful experience students had. I truly hope that Fisher Impact Day continues, and I hope the committee continues to partner with Fisher Board Fellows. Giving back to the community is so important for students, but it is especially important for business students. We spend our days in class learning about shareholders equity and market share and profit margins, but in the real world, where people are hungry and struggling to make it through the next day, those things don’t really matter all that much. Sometimes what matters most is a green pepper. And sometimes we need a reminder of that.

Round #2: The Good, The Bad, and The Awesome

They told us second year would be easy. They told us that the workload would be lighter and the classes much less difficult. They said we would learn how to balance grad school with a social life, and they promised we would have more free time. They lied.

At this stage of the game, survival feels like winning. But I will do all the things, and I will do them to the best of my ability, even if it means I won’t be sleeping much. There may be days when I don’t eat until dinner, and days I spend twelve straight hours in Gerlach. There may be times when I clean my apartment at 9:30pm on a Sunday night, because it’s the only free time I have. But there are also days when, as a Fisher Board Fellow, I get to go to board meetings and learn about how a non-profit organization is run. Those days are my shining star of hope in the chaos that is my life.

I wrote a lot last year about my first year experiences with Fisher Board Fellows. Most of last year was spent preparing for this year, because this year, I am actually serving on the board of Catholic Social Services. And I love it. I love it even more than I thought I would. I cannot tell you how much fun I am having. Although my life is a zoo, no matter how busy I am, the board meetings I attend are always the best part of my day.

Since April, I have been to a strategic retreat, Breakfast with the Bishop fundraising event, several full board meetings, and numerous external relations committee meetings. Every meeting I go to is a new learning experience, and I even feel like I’m starting to contribute to the team. Another board member and our CEO complimented me on my marketing and advertising insights at our last meeting. I’m sure Dr. Matta would be proud of me.

Over the last several months, I have been able to learn about what it takes to run a non-profit organization. I have learned about the strategic and branding and financial concerns of Catholic Social Services, and I have learned much about leadership from the CEO, Rachel Lustig. Catholic Social Services is going through some big changes, and I have been lucky enough to be present and to learn about these strategic changes and processes over the summer. I’m actually seeing the concepts we learned in class last year be implemented in a real business situation, and the experience has been invaluable for me.

Overall, this term has been challenging and overwhelming, but it has also been weirdly wonderful. If I survive and make it to fall break, I’ll let you know how the rest of my year and experiences as a board fellow go!

Board Announcements!

Last week, the first year Fisher Board Fellows had their board training session. We learned about the fundamentals of non-profit work and serving on a board from Janie Levine Daniel, a former board fellow herself, and we also learned about non-profit accounting from Brian Mittendorf. The session, combined with the Bridges To The Boardroom luncheons over the last few terms, have helped the first year fellows become more comfortable with the board process and get a better idea of what to expect when we begin serving on our boards.

After the training was over, our board assignments for next year were finally announced. I will be serving on the board of Catholic Social Services, which I am thrilled about! They were my first choice board, and I’m already doing some pro bono marketing work with them, which will be a good way to learn more about the organization and its needs before I begin my board project.

Each of the boards is different in terms of how often they meet, and when they want their fellows to start. Some fellows begin attending board sessions over the summer, and some don’t start until the fall. Some boards meet once a month, and others only quarterly. Because of these differences, the second year FBF leadership team has organized a banquet for the first year fellows and representatives from their boards to meet before the end of the school year. This way, everyone has at least touched base with their board before leaving for summer internships.

My first meeting with the Catholic Social Services board will be next week, and I’m really excited to meet everyone on my board. This meeting will be a little different than most, as the Bishop will be inducting new members onto the board. It’s kind of a new beginning, in a way, and they felt it would be a good time for me to start, along with the new full-time members. I will also be attending a strategic planning retreat next Saturday, which will be run by Professor Rucci, who has been working with the organization and helping it come up with a new strategy over the past year. I’ve never been on any kind of professional retreat, so I’m interested to see what one is like. I can’t wait to start working with my board, and I’m very excited to see what kind of projects they need help with!

 

 

 

One Time At CAMP

Yesterday was Fisher AMP’s (Association of Marketing Professionals) annual CAMP (Columbus Advertising and Marketing Powwow) event!  I was on the CAMP committee this year and in charge of the social media surrounding the promotion of the event.  We did some really cool things this year with social media.  We had trivia and scavenger hunt contests on Twitter (prizes, extra raffle entries, and a grand prize were given to winners), individual website blogs for our keynote speakers, and we used #FisherCAMP2015 to let the audience tweet in their questions throughout the day.

CAMP LogoMy favorite part of CAMP was our keynote speaker, John Gerzema’s speech.  He gave a great presentation and discussed some of his company’s research.  What BAV Consulting discovered is that the key traits people feel are vital to an effective leader are also typically thought of as feminine traits.  He discussed the importance of characteristics such as patience, empathy, and candor, in a leader.  It was an excellent speech, and one that really resonated with me.

John Gerzema CAMP

Throughout the day, CAMP attendees also learned about the importance of big data in marketing from Kevin Richardson, who was also a keynote speaker.  Despite Kevin’s belief in and support of big data, he also discussed the importance of qualitative marketers, and suggested that the field of marketing must never lose them, or it will lose something crucial to marketing.

Kevin Richardson CAMP

There was also a panel of professionals from the Columbus area, all of whom were involved in social and digital media at companies such as Jeni’s, Homage, Piada, and SME Digital.  The panelists discussed the importance of social media in the field of marketing, and the challenges facing marketers as they navigate through the digital world.

Panel CAMP

We also presented the Marketer Of The Year Award to GoPro!

GoPro CAMP

As a CAMP committee member, I’m very proud of how well all of our hard work paid off.  CAMP was an event that everyone enjoyed, and I’m excited to see how CAMP changes and grows for next year!

CAMP 2015

CAMP Logo

Every year, Fisher’s Association of Marketing Professionals (AMP) puts on their annual Columbus Advertising & Marketing Powwow (CAMP) event.  At this event, students and professionals come together to learn about new trends and recent developments in marketing and advertising.  This year’s CAMP will include keynote speeches from John Gerzema, the CEO of BAV Consulting, and Kevin Richardson, the Senior Vice-President of Consulting Services at Nielsen Marketing Analytics.  The day will also include a panel of marketing professionals from the Columbus area, as well as the presentation of the second annual Marketer Of The Year Award, which will be presented to GoPro.

The 2015 CAMP will take place this Friday, March 27th, at The Fawcett Event Center from noon to 4:30 p.m.  If you are a current or prospective student, or if you are simply in the Columbus area and interested in learning more about marketing, come join us!  Tickets are currently on sale on the Fisher AMP website http://fisheramp.com/marketingcamp/.  Lunch will be provided and parking is free!  More information about this year’s speakers, panel, and Marketer Of The Year can also be found on the website.

Fisher AMP is very excited about this year’s event, and we have a few fun surprises planned for the day of.  Come check it out!

 

Do You

In business school, there are so many options available to you – different majors, tracks, classes, case competitions, networking events, student organizations, internships, and other opportunities.  No one does the same thing in business school.  Sure, some people have the same major.  Others intern at the same company.  Still others are on the same student organization leadership boards.  But everyone has slightly different paths through this program.  And that’s a good thing.  So my advice to current and incoming students is this: Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing.  Do you.

This past week the Class of 2016 started Semester #2 of our MBA career.  This term was the first we were able to choose an elective.  I chose corporate finance.  Although I ultimately want to work in marketing, I also want to learn about finance while I’m at Fisher.  The first few days back were filled with people asking about each others breaks and what extra classes they were taking.  Invariably, when I gave my reply, there would be a shocked gasp and a “Why?!”

My background is in literature and creative writing, and I will freely admit that I like words better than I like numbers – but I see a lot of value in understanding numbers.  It’s important to know how to invest and save money.  It’s important to understand your finances and to know your limits – what you can and cannot afford.  Right now my philosophy about money is pretty squirrely – literally.  Birthday money?  Put it in the bank.  Christmas money?  Put it in the bank.  Everything extra goes into savings.  Always.  We’re storing up for winter, folks!  But that isn’t always the best way to do things, and especially not once you start working and making a bit of money.  So I plan to complete the investments track at Fisher and learn how to be a smart investor.  I don’t really care if I struggle with some of the topics (though I did very well in my Finance I and II classes).  I may get a B or two, and that’s okay.  What’s important is that I’m learning, and I’m learning about something I think is valuable.

And maybe a lot of people think finance is scary.  And maybe there’s a stereotype that words people can’t take numbers classes.  And maybe I will struggle more than the average finance student at times.  But ima do me.  And I’m going to get the most I possibly can out of this program.  And that’s what’s most important.

Team 13 santiago's birthday
Team 13! Abhijit is sitting on my left – he’s my corporate finance partner in crime this term!

 

 

 

Fisher Board Fellows – Bridges to the Boardroom

Last April I attended Fisher’s Red Carpet Event, which was a great way to meet some of my future classmates and professors and to learn more about the program. I learned about Fisher Board Fellows for the first time at that event, and knew instantly that it was something I wanted to be a part of.  Fisher Board Fellows is a student-run organization that places MBA students on the boards of non-profit organizations in Columbus.

First year students go through an application and interview process, and those that are selected as fellows are invited to attend events throughout the year that help inform and prepare them to sit on a non-profit board the following year. During their second year, fellows attend board meetings (and sometimes committee meetings) and work on a project that adds value to their non-profit organization.  The project varies based on the non-profit and its needs, as well as the fellow’s major and skill set.

This Monday, several first year fellows had a Bridges to the Boardroom luncheon with Mr. Tony Wells, President of the Tony R. Wells Foundation.  The foundation focuses on developing stronger non-profit leaders and is very involved in social innovations and entrepreneurship for non-profits.  Mr. Wells was passionate about the work his foundation does and told us about the many ways it helps other non-profits grow and develop.  He had wonderful advice, and he spoke about how non-profit work and volunteerism had impacted and helped his career.  He told us to really get to know our boards and the organizations we’re serving, and to learn as much as we can through mentors and committees.

Mr. Wells’ advice was extremely helpful for us.  None of us have ever sat on a non-profit board before, and although there’s a lot of excitement, there’s also some nervousness.  I definitely think we all walked away from that lunch feeling more prepared and with a better idea of what next year will be like.  And I have to tell you, I cannot wait to see what the next year brings!

Teamwork

One of the things I was most nervous about when I first started business school was working on a team. I knew we would be put into teams of five at the beginning of pre-term, and that we would work together on all group projects for the entire year.  As an English major, I was used to writing papers and teaching classes by myself.  As the oldest of five children, I was good at organizing and ordering.  I had a lot of practice with being in charge, but I wasn’t sure how good I would be at NOT being in charge.  At the very least, I suspected I would have to be the group mom and make sure everyone was doing what they were supposed to be doing and our projects were handed in on time.  I braced myself for excessive goofing off during group meetings and mentally prepared to be the fun-sucker who brings everyone back to the project and keeps them on-task.

But none of my fears were realized. Literally.  None of them.  My team is as motivated and organized and determined as I am.  It’s a little weird – okay, it’s really weird – but it’s true.  It’s easy to give my teammates control of aspects of projects because I know they will do it right – they will do it better than I ever could.  A few days ago, I had a one-on-one meeting with a professor.  “Who is on your team?” he asked.  I told him.  “Oh.  That’s a very strong team.  A VERY strong team.”  I know.

I realize that sometimes teams struggle to work together.  I know teams can have conflicting personalities or difficult schedules.  I know some teams work well together, but never see each other outside of class.  I was warned about the variety of team differences, issues, and tensions before I started this program.  But none of that describes my team.  My teammates are wonderful people – they are smart and funny and driven.  We always laugh when we’re together, but we work our butts off, too.  We sit next to or within talking-distance of each other in almost every class, and we hang out on the weekends.  When I don’t understand something that’s going on in class, my teammates are more than willing to take the time out of their own busy schedules to help me.  I genuinely love my team, and I know that when this program ends, I will leave with at least four forever friends.  And that is a pretty epic MBA (and life) win.

Abhijit and Santiago are holding the map in front.  Joe is in the grey t-shirt behind them.  I'm the one in turquoise and hot pink, and Ben is next to me in navy.
Abhijit and Santiago are holding the map in front. Joe is in the grey t-shirt behind them. I’m the one in turquoise and hot pink, and Ben is next to me in navy.